Sen. Ron Johnson: "Imperative" For President Trump To Listen To Intelligence Agencies


Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said on 'FOX News Sunday' that it was "imperative" for President Trump to listen to the advice of U.S. intelligence agencies. In another interview Sunday morning, President Trump said the opposite, pointing out that they have made mistakes in the past and he doesn't always agree with their conclusions.

"You have to rely on people who have been working these issues for decades," Sen. Johnson said. "And it's just imperative that you actually listen to, for example, the CIA chief, the director of national intelligence, these people have the real knowledge and you have to listen to them."

"I have intel people, but that doesn't mean I have to agree," President Trump said. "President Bush had intel people that said Saddam Hussein in Iraq had nuclear weapons- had all sorts of weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? Those intel people didn't know what the hell they were doing, and they got us tied up in a war that we should have never been in. And we've spent seven trillion dollars in the Middle East and we have lost lives."


WALLACE: We saw a remarkable split this week between the president and his own intel chiefs on a number of world hot spots. While the president, since the summit with Kim Jong-un has said that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat, here was the testimony this week by the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.


DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities. It is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.


WALLACE: And here are the president and Director Coats on the threat from ISIS.


TRUMP: We've really stepped it up and we have won against ISIS. We've beaten them and we've beaten them badly.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.


WALLACE: They also disagreed, the president and, in this case, CIA Director Gina Haspel, over whether or not Iran is violating the Iran nuclear deal.

What do you make of the president and his own intelligence chiefs at such odds?

JOHNSON: Well, let me also say that Ms. Ahmad was -- was also pretty firm in her assurances that ISIS has sleeper cells existing. They are not thoroughly defeated yet.

Now, the caliphate, the territorial caliphate, is gone, but you still have those sleeper cells.

Listen, I come from the private sector. Spent 30 years in manufacturing. Enter public life. And I --I realized -- I have the modesty to understand that there's an awful lot -- there's an -- you know, so much tradition and history and complexity to some of these foreign policy issues, you have to rely on people who have been working these issues for -- for decades. And it's just imperative that you actually listen to, for example, the CIA chief, the director of national intelligence, these people have the real knowledge and you have to listen to them.

WALLACE: Well, that wasn't the president's first reaction. Actually, none of his reactions. His first reaction was to bash the intel chiefs. Let me put up a couple of his tweets. The intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive. Perhaps intelligence should go back to school. And then after meeting with his chiefs the next day, the presidents at this.


TRUMP: They said that they were totally misquoted and they were totally -- it was taken out of context. So what I do is I'd suggest that you call them. They said it was fake news.


WALLACE: Is that healthy? I mean as the head of the Homeland Security Committee, on the Foreign Relations Committee, is -- does that concern you when the president says there is agreement between him and his intel chiefs on all these key issues, when clearly, from listening to their testimony, there isn't agreement?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, I just say one instance, the -- what the intelligence chiefs were talking about Iran, they were saying currently and technically Iran is in compliance. But I think the president's absolutely right of the -- the -- this type of danger that Iran represents, not only to the region but the world. I mean they're -- they're -- they're continuing to plot terrorist attacks into Europe. They, obviously, are fomenting the conflict in Yemen. And, you know, they are certainly not helpful in Syria. They are a real threat to Israel and to world peace and stability.

So, technically, they may be in compliance with the agreement, currently they may not be pursuing nuclear weapons, but, you know, they're still fomenting terror, they're still the largest state sponsor of terror in the world. And so I -- you know, again, I think maybe that difference was blown way out of proportion.

Watch Johnson's full FOX News Sunday interview:

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